While you don’t always get the holiday season you want, it helps if you can want the one you get. What’s your gift from OZY in this crazy year? Some of our most memorable stories to warm the heart. They’re best enjoyed with a hot toddy in hand and dreams for a better future nearby.
Forget supermarket eggnog. Puerto Rican coquito is so cool and so hard to get right, even for Puerto Ricans, that you could use a few swigs beforehand just to deal with the anxiety. The exact combinations of milk varieties, eggs, rum and spices are traded in whispers, not written in recipes. But a successful end result is so worth it.
He married a gentile, and she converted. So would it kill him to give a little on the Christmas tree thing? Happily, he did. After all, a tree, which derives from the pre-Christian pagan tradition, is not awfully different from half the things we might have growing in our apartments. And absent a crucifix, it’s not nearly as history laden.
3. Merriment, Mistletoe + Music
What are the holidays without brass bands playing Christmas carols? A West Virginia high school band director went ahead and made his own by looping different layers of music to create a full melody, at a time when the pandemic makes convening a band inconvenient. In Jim Allder’s case, that meant making one tuba into four.
4. TV That Crushes Christmas
If you’ve ever seen Phil Hartman as “The Funny Runny Daddy” on Saturday Night Live, you’ll remember how hilarious their holiday sendups could be. Here’s a nice collection of classics. Just to be clear, we’re not suggesting that you do anything so antisocial as watching TV instead of celebrating with your masked or bubbled family, but as the evening wanes, this could be just what the crowd needs. And there’s nothing more worth staying up for than the lost ending to It’s a Wonderful Life.
5. Putting Parody Aside
While most media does, at best, a thorough job of presenting dad as the guy who officially “just doesn’t get it,” there are oodles of men on planet Earth holding it down and doing more than just paying the bills. Beyond the punchlines, some of them are even divorced dads for whom holidays are a special kind of treat, or can be. Here’s our guide to a better “Dad Christmas.”
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Not all holiday secrets and surprises sit well, especially when the big holiday reveal is a status change: Welcome to being a grandpa! I can’t say I took being stuck in a Madonna song well at first, but I came around with flying colors, if I may say so.
All that most dads have to do to not be remembered poorly is to not screw up in a major way. Then there’s the dad who built a ski lift in the backyard for his daughters. And if you’re a dad who’s feeling even a little bit envious right about now and muttering about “overachievers,” it’s a sign that you, indubitably, need to step up your game.
3. Laugh, Laugh, I Tell You
A podcast with a Jehovah’s Witness and a Catholic sounds like a joke, but the funny part is how friggin’ funny it is. Because without walking into a bar, you have total hilarity with two hosts who break down Christmas movies by stacking them up and having them duke it out for holiday supremacy on Sisqo and Tree Bird Present a Christmas Podcast Spectacular on Ice!
It’s not a bad story, the one about Scrooge, but it’s a familiar one. Still, stage adaptations of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol are taking off across the coronavirus-rattled U.K. this holiday season, with some being staged outside, others via livestream and all carrying the heart that has made the story as relevant as ever.
Looking at the numbers of trans teens who are homeless because of parents who are not understanding or accepting, when one finds a home it feels much more the exception than the rule. For Aly Fuentes, shelter came from Host Home, a national program to offer safe, short-term housing for young people at risk of homelessness.
The year is almost over. Don’t look back on it wishing you hadn’t missed out on the best styles of 2020.
Cariuma’s premium, handmade Catiba Pros are breathing life back into the golden age of skating. Get ready to look back on 2020 knowing you own the weather-resistant, high-grip and most comfortable shoe out there.
OZY readers get an exclusive $15 off for a limited time with code OZY. Check it out now!
A gift from us to you. What better way to spend your Christmas Day than with a Queer Eye extravaganza? In the ultimate matchup between fashion guru Tan France and culture expert Karamo, both from the iconic Netflix show. Who wins the battle for your favorite episode of The Carlos Watson Show? Check out the episodes here, and let us know your pick by following The Carlos Watson Show on Instagram and voting in our Stories.
three santa’s helpers
1. Mac Harman
Artificial Christmas trees are not what you would expect any of the big brains to invest energy in, not to mention dollars, and yet Harman has. His Balsam Brands create a lot more than artificial trees, but it was the trees that caught our eye, since it never dawned on us that they could look this good. In fact, the company’s “true needle” technology mimics the real thing about as well as you can imagine.
2. Ree Drummond
Imagine if Martha Stewart was an Okie from Pawhuska and went by Pioneer Woman? And her holiday recipes are to die for. They’ll transport anyone who’s eaten ranch cooking right back home.
3. Chef Nicholas Lodge
The judge of the National Gingerbread House Competition for two decades, pastry chef Lodge is voting in winners who will frost your mind. Forget those dilapidated houses you build after a little too much sherry, or even your kids’ more ambitious efforts. These gingerbread homes are works of art. Which is just how Chef Lodge likes it.
While we’re unsure who mall Santas are for — kids? parents? retailers? — someone’s getting a paycheck for it, even during the pandemic. But our curiosity remains regarding the amount of stranger terror the average mall Santa can create from behind a sheet of acrylic. And the holiday hope remains: Enough to continue causing nightmares well into adulthood, since if it was good/horrifying enough for us, it’s got to be good/horrifying enough for them!
2. The Office Holiday Party: Dissed or Missed?
The last time you could really relax at an office holiday party? Probably back in the ’50’s when passing out drunk was cause for promotion. Now there are rules! And thank G-d for that since the last thing any of us need to see is senior executives with lampshades on their heads dancing a wild watusi on the edge of half a dozen lawsuits. Perhaps the fact that no respectable office is holding an in-person boozy gathering this year is a good thing.
3. Days of Kris Kringle Past
Mall Santas Take 2: During different times, how good of a job was mall-Santa-ing? If you hear our mall Santa correspondent tell it, it’s not a bad weekend gig for a retired IT type. That is, if you can stand the 15-minute routine getting out of the suit to use the little elves’ room.
Remember the unofficial tradition of SantaCon and groups of drunken Santas battling in the streets? We do. And while we had an unkind name for them, in the absence of anything else that makes life normal, we’re actually sort of missing those red-suited saviors of the cautionary tales of yore.
So you want to get a nice little wreath for your holiday display? Simple. Here you go, and that’ll be $4.6 million, please. You read that right. And the wildly expensive baubles don’t stop there. On the low end there’s wrapping paper for almost $7,500. Yes, wrapping paper. We don’t know who’s buying this stuff, but we’re definitely open to being adopted by them.
2. Where Does the Dreidel Come From?
Originally a four-sided clay top that kids celebrating Hanukkah all over the world would spin for some festival of lights merriment, the dreidel even has its own song. Something most other kids’ toys do not. Given how it’s often adorned with Hebrew letters and how integral it is to the celebration of Hanukkah, you’d think the dreidel was Jewish to its core. Guess again. The game evolved from a Christmastime tradition in England and Ireland.
Let’s raise a toast to the simple things in life that have been absent for the greater part of 2020 if you wanted to stay alive: celebrating just about anything with strangers. Not on Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meet or Skype, but close enough that you can feel all of that goodwill. For Terrence L. Moore, drinking with strangers is the ultimate hang, and we all look forward to the day when it’s once again OK.